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Morsi's trial, between "Defiance" and "hysteria"

January 27, 2014 at 11:13 am

“Defiant” and “challenge” are the words that have been prevalent in most foreign media’s description of deposed president Mohammed Morsi’s trial and his refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of the court trying him during the first session on Monday, November 4. However, the Egyptian newspapers and television stations, both state-owned and private, used the word “hysteria,” and even compared him to Mubarak, whom they said respected the court, unlike Morsi.

In fact, these newspapers and television stations began comparing him to Mubarak even before his trial started, as Monday 4 August headlines of the official newspapers read: Al-Ahram “Morsi in Mubarak’s cage,” Algomhuria “Today… Morsi is in Mubarak’s cage.” Moreover, the headlines of private newspapers, such as Al-Youm Al-Sabea “Morsi is in Mubarak’s cage” and Al-Masry Al-Youm “By order of the court: Morsi in Mubarak’s cage.”

The comparison does not only point out the trial venue – the Police Academy that witnessed Mubarak’s first trial and his retrial – which Mubarak is attending while being released but under “house arrest” at Maadi military hospital. His house arrest will expire on 14 November.

It is worth mentioning that Mubarak hasn’t spent a single night in a prison cell, but has gone back and forth between his palace in Sharm el- Sheikh and five-star hospitals in Sharm el-Sheikh, Cairo & Maadi Military Hospital, and the prison hospital.

The purpose of comparing Morsi and Mubarak is to try to draw a mental image that conveys there is no difference between Mubarak, who was in power for 30 years during which he was marred by corruption, oppression, and poverty, and between Morsi, the first civilian president elected democratically after the January 25, 2011 revolution and was only in office for a year, during which he suffered through the legacy of 3 decades of Mubarak’s rule and a fierce war against him by the “Deep State” and all its agencies and institutions that have worked against his rule and towards overthrowing him.

They failed to compare the fact that Mubarak is still on trial for the murder of over 800 Egyptians during the January revolution alone, along with his interior minister, and the fact that Morsi is being tried along with a number of Muslim Brotherhood leaders on charges of inciting to kill 3 demonstrators and that neither the interior minister at the time, Ahmed Gamal El Din, nor any of the police are being tried with him.

A number of foreign correspondents who attended the hearing described it as a “circus,” while others described it as a “sham” and “politicised.” None of them mentioned the fairness of the trial or that it was an ordinary trial. They did, however, raise questions regarding the reason why the trial was not broadcasted live like Mubarak’s trial. They also questioned the reason behind the failure to list the names of the 8 Brotherhood supporters killed along with the 3 demonstrators killed in the same case outside Ittihadiya Palace on December 5th, and some editorials even mentioned Morsi’s right to reject such a trial.

Furthermore, most of the Western media outlets mentioned that the security forces have killed over 1,000 Egyptian citizens supporting Morsi and legitimacy since the coup and no one has held them accountable or prosecuted them.

Mohamed Salmawy, spokesperson for the committee of 50, which is writing the new constitution, expressed his anger in statements published on Al-Ahram’s website “the Western media’s disrespect of the Egyptians’ will and their interest in Morsi’s statements regarding legitimacy, instead of mocking them like they did with the statements of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein during his trial!”

Salmawy did mention the reason or grounds of the comparison between Morsi and Saddam, whether regarding the way they came to power or their rule. It is also worth mentioning that Saddam was tried under the U.S. presence in Iraq. The phrase “the will of the Egyptian people” is used to justify the July 3rd coup which did not expect and is still trying to ignore the will of the people who reject the coup and who are still demonstrating almost on a daily basis, despite the killings, arrests, the closure of the squares, etc.

Moreover, a number of Egyptian officials expressed anger at the Western media because it calls the events that occurred on July 3rd a military coup and reports the killings, arrests, violations of human rights, and the violation of the values behind the January revolution.

Surely the Western media are not Brotherhood members or supporters, and are not necessarily fans of them or their projects, but nowadays professionalism, objectivity, and credibility no longer have a presence in almost all Egyptian media which hates the Muslim Brotherhood and blindly supports anyone against them and wants to eliminate them from political life or even life in general. Some, or many, had even gone as far as justifying the killing, burning, and arresting of thousands and have blamed the victims in defence of the perpetrators.

It is only natural that such media would believe that hating a political party or Egyptian citizens would justify the promotion of lies, fabricated charges, and even killing, burning, and arresting them. They don’t even see anything wrong, and believe it is fair not to broadcast the trial on air, apart from a few seconds of silent footage in which Morsi appeared to be steadfast and perseverant, completely opposite to Mubarak, who was praised by some newspapers for his respect of the court.

In another shot, a number of foreign correspondents inside the court commented – on Twitter and in their published reports of the trial – on the chants of some Egyptian journalists demanding the execution of Morsi instead of providing a trustworthy account of the trial.

Such behaviour during the trial, as well as the spreading and promotion of lies against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, does not only harm the Muslim Brotherhood, the journalists, and the media, but also violates and infringes on the right of readers and viewers to know the truth, and this goes against the media code of honour and honour in general, as lying and deception is irreconcilable with honour and honesty.

This does not mean no one should criticise Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood or that they have not make any errors while they were in office or otherwise, but criticising any official or citizen should not be in the form of circulating lies and fabricated accusations, especially when they cannot defend themselves or respond to these lies and accusation, which has been the case since the coup.

The media that is against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood has never been concerned with true criticism or truth, and now does not seem to be concerned with justice, but instead, it is interested in revenge and the exclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood, which will not happen as they have deluded themselves into thinking. However, this will contribute to the increasing misinformation of the people, and will deepen the hatred and division among the people, which has nothing to do with journalism and media which should be searching and tracking down the truth.

We must challenge the hysteria of lying, misinformation, incitement, and hatred in the media with honesty, professionalism, objectivity, correct news and information, and logic for the sake of this profession, credibility, and for the people who rightfully want to know the truth, not lies.

The writer is @nadiaglory on twitter

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.